The phrase “Family Law” is a general description of what is actually a variety of areas of practice that directly or indirectly involve family matters. Family Law most commonly involves divorce, custody, parenting time, and/or child support. However, family law also includes other areas, such as Orders for Protection, and Termination of Parental Rights (TPR matters).
The purpose of the summaries below is to give you some general helpful information. Anthony Saunders handles all types of Family Law matters. If you have more questions, please feel free to call and arrange a free consultation.
Generally speaking, there are four primary aspects to a Divorce; 1) property division; 2) maintenance (alimony); 3) custody; and 4) child support. Of course, if the parties have no minor children, custody and child support would not apply. Read below to learn more about each of these areas. As a general matter, Divorce in Minnesota is considered “no fault,” meaning that no one has to “prove” that the other spouse has misbehaved in order to be granted a divorce. An uncontested divorce, meaning the parties agree to all the terms already, can be a much cheaper options and I can draft the paperwork for those matters.
Property Division results in the court dividing “marital property,” which is generally considered any property obtained by the parties after the marriage began. However, there are various exceptions (gifts to one party, inheritances, etc…) which could make property “non-marital,” so the first step is determining just what property is considered “martial.” Although the law does not require a 50/50 split of the marital property, you should generally expect that the court will strive to split the property “evenly,” often resulting in a 50/50 split. Sometimes this is easily achieved, such as where the parties do not own a home, or the home is fully encumbered. However, complex property division issues can result when one or both of the parties owns a business, or something similar.
Maintenance (often referred to as “alimony”) involves one party partially or wholly supporting the other party even after the divorce. While maintenance is probably the most “grey” area of divorce law, you can generally expect the following: 1) maintenance is more likely to be an issue in a divorce if you have been married for seven or more years; 2) the higher the income of the parties, the more likely maintenance will be an issue in a divorce; and 3) if one party is disabled in a way that effects that party’s ability to earn income, maintenance is more likely to be an issue in a divorce.
Custody applies to parties with minor children. Custody is determined by the court using various “factors” found in Utah Statutes that are referred to as the “Best Interest Factors.” There are two types of custody; Physical and Legal. Physical custody pertains to more “day to day” decisions, like choosing what clothes are appropriate, and Legal custody pertains to more “long term” decisions, like choosing between a private school or public school.
The issue of parenting time is often confused with the issue of custody. While the two are related, they are rather different. The custody issue largely pertains to the “labels” used, such as “sole physical,” or “joint legal.” Parenting time, on the other hand, is not impacted by the custody “label.” Parenting time is solely concerned with the schedule of the parties and the child(ren). Schedules can vary depending on court order or any agreement of the parents. Often the parents forge an agreement regarding the parenting schedule but it is important to understand, regardless of any agreement made by the parties, the Court is required under the law to make an independent determination that the agreed upon schedule is “in the best interest of the child(ren).” Utah sets out minimum parenting time if the parties cannot agree to what the parenting time will be.
“Child Support” includes the following three areas; 1) basic support; 2) medical support; and 3) child care support. Utah does not combine these areas and as such both parties are responsible under the statutes to provide all three separately. Although calculating child support can be a rather complex matter, the obligations are generally based upon the parties’ income, the amount of time each party spends parenting the minor child(ren), and medical coverage available to the children through the parties.
ORDER FOR PROTECTION (OFP)
An Order for Protection may be obtained to protect an individual from domestic abuse by another. If you have been served with an OFP, there are various deadlines that must be met in order to contest the OFP. Failure to meet such a deadline will result in the OFP being in effect on a long-term basis.